Not Your Average Father's Day Story
People tell me I share inappropriate stories with my kids and that I’m supposed to be their father and not their friend. I’m pretty sure the following post falls under the category “What the hell did you tell them, Al?”
It was Father’s Day a few years ago and the kids and I decided to do a tour of the Jersey shore. The plan was to start in Asbury Park, and then we would work our way along the coast to Belmar and then end up in Point Pleasant for a late lunch. In Asbury Park, as we walked the boardwalk, I got excited as we neared Convention Hall. I told the kids to follow me as I serpentine the boardwalk like Groucho Marx trying to find cell phone service. I finally stopped.
“See this,” I pointed to the ground, “this is the exact spot where I was arrested!”
They must have wondered why I was smiling.
It was 1980 and a large group of my friends and I went to Asbury Park to see Ian Hunter at the Convention Hall. We split into two groups — some had tickets closer to the stage, while others had seats near the back of the auditorium. I was upfront with about six of my friends. I am 6’2 and at this time of my life I had a group of friends where I was considered the short one — that was this group. All except for my friend Pinhead who stood about 5’4, but was someone I would want by my side in a fight any day.
As the lights went down and the cheers went up my friend George, who was a few inches taller than me, stepped up onto his seat. Just then the first few notes of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue“ could be heard, the curtain opened and out stepped Ian Hunter.
That was the last thing I saw.
To my left, George was pushed down and crashed into the row of people in front of us. He was up in an instant and was on his attacker. Within seconds, the two rows were in battle. Fists flew blindly in the air, landing on friend and foe alike. Through the melee I spotted a sea of yellow-shirted bouncers as they descended on our group. I was pulled toward the side aisle and my shirt was nearly torn off my body. As my arms were being pulled in different directions it took all my strength to keep my right index finger hooked around the finger that was currently trying to gauge my eye out.
Once in the aisle, and with three bouncers on me, I looked up to see the exit door open and a handful of police officers entered the building. I thought, “Great, maybe they could get these assholes off me.” They did, but not in the way I thought — a few seconds later my friends and I were handcuffed and we were marched down the boardwalk toward the waiting police cars.
Once at the station we were put in a small, concrete-walled room where the stench of urine not only assaulted our senses but then pissed on them just for good measure. The once lone occupant of the room was passed out on the sticky, dark floor. We of course sang the traditional “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen“ while my friend John yelled through the door about his fourth, his fifth, and his nineteenth amendment’s rights (what this had to do with a woman’s right to vote I don’t know, but he was on a roll).
One by one we were taken from the cell to explain what happened, and one by one we were given tickets with a court date and told we had to appear. Apparently, the bouncers pressed charges against us. We told the police that we still had friends back at the concert so they were generous enough to give us a ride back to Convention Hall.
I soon found myself back in front of Convention Hall, standing in the exact same spot that I would be in years later when I told this story to my kids. As I stood there I could hear the muffled voice of Ian Hunter through the walls and I would catch glimpses of the stage whenever the front door opened. Unnoticed someone stepped next to me.
I heard a voice ask, “What are you doing here?” I turned to see a small man with a 70s porn mustache who wore a tan Member’s Only jacket. I raised my hand to point at the theater but before I could explain that I was waiting for my friends who were still inside he snapped a handcuff to my wrist. Within seconds I was marched back down the boardwalk, hands cuffed behind my back. Pinhead saw what happened and asked, “What did you do?” I told him I had no idea and that he should come and get me when the concert was over.
When I walked back into the police station the officer that had just given us a ride back looked at me and laughed.
“Al, what the hell did you do?”
Again, I was at a loss for an explanation. Turns out the porn mustache Member’s Only man was their Captain. He had witnessed the first arrest and assumed I had gone back to cause more trouble. I was issued another ticket for the same court date except this time it was the Captain that was filing the complaint.
A few weeks later we found ourselves in court. My friend John’s (my constitutionally challenged friend) father hired a lawyer and got his charges dropped. The bouncer that filed the complaint against me never showed up for court, so those charges were dropped. All I had left was to ask pornstache if he would drop the charges as well. After I groveled enough to his satisfaction he agreed to drop the complaint.
My record was clear. Now I could honestly answer in future job interviews when asked if I have been convicted of a crime:
“Convicted? No, never.”
After I finished the story with the kids, and with their confused looks as to why I would smile when talking about being arrested, we continued our tour of the shore.
I’m wondering what to do for this Father’s Day and what stories I can tell. Perhaps I’ll take them down Route 35 and show them the parking lot where I lost my virginity.